What Is Hypomania? - Definition, Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Did you know that hypomania is commonly experienced by people with bipolar disorder II? Learn more about hypomania, its symptoms, and how it is treated. Then, test your knowledge with a quiz.

Example and Definition

Gia is a business executive for a marketing company. Lately, she has been feeling extremely happy. Her confidence and self-esteem have also increased dramatically, though she cannot seem to point to a specific reason why. She has been sleeping less than three hours a night, but does not seem to be tired. On the contrary, Gia is full of energy. She spends this time engaging in risky behaviors. She goes out and hooks up with random guys, goes on major shopping sprees that have resulted in huge credit card bills that Gia later has to pay, and spends an increased amount of time in bars and socializing with friends. Gia is showing symptoms of hypomania.

So, what exactly is hypomania? Hypomania is a period characterized by elevated or irritable mood that lasts for a minimum of four days and occurs for a majority of the day nearly every day. The mood of a person experiencing hypomania is different than what that person's mood would be on a regular day. For example, a person experiencing hypomania may suddenly become extremely productive and social. This change can be easily noticed by others who have regular contact with the person, such as family, co-workers, and friends.

Hypomania by itself is not severe enough to cause problems with a person's work or ability to socialize with others. Nor does hypomania require hospitalization. There are no psychotic features with hypomania, i.e., people with hypomania don't see or hear things that aren't really there. It is these differences that distinguishes hypomania from what a person would experience during a manic episode.

Hypomania is not an official diagnosis by itself. However, hypomania is a part of a diagnosable mental disorder called bipolar II disorder. A person with bipolar disorder may have episodes of hypomania or mania followed by episodes of depression. It is possible for some people to experience hypomania without having bipolar disorder.

Symptoms

Individuals with hypomania experience exaggerated self-esteem, elevated mood, and intense happiness. They sleep less, even though they still feel well-rested. They tend to be talkative and have racing thoughts. Individuals with hypomania are easily distracted and find it difficult to concentrate. They may also experience increased sexual desire, goal-directed activity, and involvement in pleasurable activities that could potentially lead to negative consequences.

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